SOME time ago, a “challenge” was thrown down by certain Whickham Golf Club Members to a group of golfers who are not members of any club but socialize in the Bridle Path Public House in Whickham.
Which is how the inaugural “Alternative Ryder Cup”, organised by Les Frizzell and Billy Lamb, recently took place at Whickham Golf Club to celebrate both men’s 50th birthdays in 2010 and to brighten up a dull early winter Sunday.
Following the golf, the players then moved on to the Bridle Path, where they battled it out for honours on the dart board.
On behalf of the pub team, Bill Baty explained: “We are known as the ‘Reefers’, a group of lads who get together for an annual trip to Tenerife for a week’s competitive golf and to enjoy each other’s company. Most of us play golf socially and are not members of any club. Some have quite high, but not over-generous, handicaps.”
Representing the Reefers were Kris Holmes and Tony Charlton, Bill Baty and Colin Foster, Stephen Plewes and Alan Brown, Rob Holmes and Geordie Pratt, Melly Mayes and Ian Elliott and, finally, Billy Lamb and Gary Moses.
Whickham’s golf club team call themselves the “Bellas” – a group of gents who go on an annual trip to Marbella to play golf.
Their team pairings consisted of Jimmy and Ronnie Simpson, Jonathan Blackie and Russell Devine, Rob Bone and Darren Tench, David Farrey and Stevie Upton, Neil Thompson and John Dixon, and Les Frizzell and George Kelly. Two of the players are past captains of the club – Ronnie Simpson and Les Frizzell.
Although this was a friendly match, the competitive element was evident. “On the day, the Reefers met for an early morning breakfast and team talk,” said Bill. “Elegantly turned out in team colours, we were the smartest turned-out team . . . no contest!
“The Bellas turned on in a multitude of different colours, but all good designer sports gear. It is fair to say that their team are a group of experienced and regular playing golfers, with handicaps to match.”
The contest was hard fought, with numerous tales of missed putts and unlucky bounces but, when the dust settled, the Bellas proved victorious, winning five matches to one. The only success for the Reefers was a notable victory for Bill Baty and Colin Foster, who won their match 4&2.
The match of the day, epitomizing the competition and camaraderie of the event, was between Kris Holmes and Tony Charlton against Ronnie Simpson (handicap 5) and his son James (playing off +1). Although James was two-under par for his round, making 16 pars and two birdies, the Whickham team only won the match on the last hole!
Bill added: “The presentation of the brand new trophy to the winning team was made by the losing captain Billy Lamb, who graciously congratulated the Bellas on their victory and promised a Reefers victory, under a new captain, in 2011.
After a few drinks in the clubhouse the second part of this sporting event – “Darts at the Bridle Path” – got under way. This was a chance for the Reefers to get their revenge and demonstrate their skill with the arrows. The challenge consisted of a team game and a series of pairs matches. The tension was high, the banter was charged . . .and the Reefers won convincingly.
So, honours were even, the golf to the Bs and the darts to the Rs – and everyone was happy.
Bill concluded: “This inaugural competition for The Whickham Trophy was played in the very best of spirit and everyone had a fantastic time, both at the golf and the pub afterwards. It showed, yet again, that golf can be enjoyed by anyone and that it can be used to build lasting friendships with individuals and, certainly, within communities.”
Everyone who took part is looking forward to contesting the trophy in 2011.